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Put-in-Bay 2020 In With The New, Remembering The Old!

As we ring in Put-in-Bay 2020, like every year I’ve lived on the island, I reflect on the past year. This past year has not been like any other. 2019 will undoubtedly be memorable because of the flooding and the record-high water level in Lake Erie.

The one bright spot is that the flooding was not as severe as flooding in the 1970s. Unfortunately, predictions for even higher water levels in the Great Lakes this coming year exist. We all know what that means for the islands. Perhaps we will see some movement on the Put-in-Bay Mainland Water Study that’s being discussed.

The tremendous success, in my opinion, was the Safe Island Task Force’s success in curtailing the Christmas in July issues and making it a non-event on the island’s busy event calendar. In the past few years, the weekend has become an event that puts all the excellent island publicity into reverse gear.

The misbehaving crowds and the highly negative posts on social media made the weekend money loser for many businesses and a nightmare for residents. A big thank you goes out to those who volunteered countless hours working on the safe island task force.

The 100th Anniversary Of The Burning Of The Hotel Victory

We were also delighted with the island’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the burning of the Hotel Victory in 1919. Curator Dan Savage had a wonderful display of the Hotel Victory. Renee Market certainly pleased those interested in the historic structure with her tours of the Hotel Victory site in the South Bass Island State Park. 2019 will also be remembered for the Kid Rock concert. Estimates vary, but about 15,000 people were on the island to hear him and the
other musicians at the third annual Bash on the Bay. The event showed that Put-in-Bay could accommodate a huge event. Interestingly, promoters
are looking for a double, two-day Bash On The Bay this coming season in 2020. We’ll have more about this as plans progress.

Island politics were rather interesting this year. Jessica Dress became acting mayor after Mayor Mack McCann resigned in the spring. Then in November, she ran against former mayor Judy Berry to retain her seat. Jessica squeaked out a win by only two votes! Every vote did matter. We’ll all watch how this plays out in Put-in-Bay 2020.

Again this year, I jotted down the nationalities of visitors to Put-in-Bay I met this past year. I didn’t go much out of my way to meet people this past year, but here is my list: Turkey, Austria, Mexico, Jamaica, Poland, Bulgaria, Thailand, China, Mongolia, Columbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, India, Germany, Taiwan, Albania, South Korea, and Canada.

One of the most memorable was a young lady whose mother was Vietnamese, and her father was Russian. She grew up in Siberia but now lives in Germany, and she somehow found her way to Put-in-Bay. I only wish I could hear more of our visitors’ stories.

I don’t know about you, but I saw more kids driving Put-in-Bay golf carts this past year than I’ve ever seen in one season. People must not be reading those new signs around the island and stickers on the steering wheels warning people not to let kids drive carts. Hopefully, this will improve in Put-in-Bay 2020.

One of the exciting things that happened on North Bass Island this fall was the paving of the North Bass Airport and stabilizing the island’s main dock. The airport improvements ran a cool $2,000,000, paid from a federal airport improvement grant.

The work on the island’s main dock was funded by $500,000 from the state’s transportation bill passed last spring. Fewer than a dozen residents call North Bass their year-round home. In contrast, Kelleys Island, with a population of about 300 people, received a mere $101,079 Federal Aviation Association (FAA) grant for improvements.

Put-in-Bay 2020 Remembering Patrick Myers

The saddest thing islanders dealt with this past year was the passing of Patrick Myers, the creative and multi-talented islander who made Put-in-Bay a great place to live. All miss him, and his shoes will be difficult, if not impossible, to fill.

With 2019 behind us, we look forward to the New Year. New to the island will be two back-to-back Bash at the Bay concerts at the airport at the end of August and hosting the Great Lakes Islands Alliance and the Great Lakes Ferry Boat Association meetings in October. We also play host to the Great Lakes Islands Basketball Tournament in December.

A new group, The Put-in-Bay Strategic Marketing Committee (PIBSMC), will be working to improve Put-in-Bay’s image with a campaign to entice more visitors throughout the week during the season. This has been a goal for years, but this may be the first time there has been a genuinely coordinated effort to address the issue of family visitation throughout the week. You’ll be hearing more about this effort in the coming issues.

Best of all, 2020 will see Miller Boat Line’s new ferry, the M/V Mary Ann Market, going into service. This new queen of the fleet will serve the island for many years to come. With any luck, the ferry will start the first of its island runs before Labor Day.

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